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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Give ’Em Some Space

Spring Is For The Birds • Live View Benefits  • The Right Light

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips
The Right Light For Printing
Q I just bought a new high-quality inkjet photo printer, and while the prints I'm making are definitely better, I'm still disappointed in the color rendition. I think that I've done everything the way I'm supposed to, including calibrating my monitor. Do you have any suggestions for me?
B. Loury
Denver, Colorado

A We can go to great lengths to produce richly colored prints by calibrating our monitors, using quality papers and adopting precise paper/printer profiles, but if the print is viewed in "colored" light, it will disappoint. First, be sure to use neutral colors in your printing and evaluation area. That doesn't mean you have to paint the walls 18% gray, but green or yellow walls will cause a problem. It's also important to light the area to a standard color temperature; the standard we strive for is 5000 Kelvin, a very white light. Most lights in a house are around 3200 Kelvin, which is quite warm (yellow). Outside, the color of light is approximately 6500 Kelvin (blue). So the light in which you evaluate your prints will make a difference in how they look.

Once you know what you want, it's not always easy to achieve proper lighting in your printing area. In my last three printing studios, I've installed fluorescent light fixtures and fitted them with 5000 Kelvin tubes. But I'm not a fan of fluorescents due to their hum, flickering and the clunky look of the fixtures and the inability to position them to light particular areas. In my latest office, I've installed track lighting and replaced the bulbs with new LED bulbs that are bright, last a long time and are rated at 5000 Kelvin. They're not inexpensive, however, and the only source I've found is an Internet company called 1000Bulbs.com. The LED bulb that fits a GU10 track light is the Definity DFN 16 CW FL 120 GU10, priced at approximately $32 each. With a rated life of 27 years, they will last a long time and use only 6 watts of energy each. I hope that LED bulbs will become less expensive and more available over time, but the others I've seen so far in local lighting or hardware stores aren't bright enough and/or have a far warmer color temperature (3200 Kelvin).

So much for the part of the problem you can control—your studio. But where will the print eventually be hung and viewed? If you're displaying your work in a gallery, you can hope they have lighting that approaches white. In most homes, the color will be warm and yellow. But even if the color of the light is less than desirable, brightness helps. A spot or track lighting directed onto the print in a way that minimizes reflections is very effective in bringing out the details and color of the image.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.georgelepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.georgelepp.com.


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